The Top 7... Ballsiest facets of Modern Warfare 2

SPOILERS! If you haven’t found a few hours to finish MW2’s campaign yet, you may want to go do that before ingesting the following words.

It’s impressive that we were able to not only find seven, but actually choose the top seven most controversial and divisive aspects of Infinity Ward’s landmark shooter. They managed to bait everyone, from Fox News to PC gamers to the entire country of Russia, with both justified and balls-out moronic decisions.

Story-wise, Modern Warfare 2’s themes are a bit schizophrenic. The game sometimes takes a neutral stance on war and corrupt politics, sometimes implies criticism, and occasionally forgets about everything except the fact that explosions are neat and OMG headshot! It’s always been tough for games to make poignant, topical observations and remain fun, but the effect can be a soupy mess of entertainment, relevance, irrelevance, and pretention. Drop in multiple technical and PR failures, and the concoction is a shoo-in for gaming’s “most controversial” list (though still well under GTA and Carmageddon).

7. Incompetent Afghan recruits

The lack of trained soldiers in Afghanistan is common knowledge - the country has never had a well-formed national army, or even a stable government. Here’s a fun fact: The United States supported anti-Soviet rebels known as Mujahideen during the Cold War. The Soviets eventually withdrew, and a Mujahideen splinter, the Taliban, took control of the country until the United States and NATO enacted Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. Oh international politics, you’re such a cluster shart.

Above: Because you can train a group of soldiers with about two minutes of demonstration 

Modern Warfare 2 begins with a tutorial disguised as a US military training session for Afghan soldiers, who are incapable of aiming down sights or not throwing grenades up hills. There’s nothing necessarily controversial about this moment - it’s merely a topical way for the game to introduce the controls. But it is ballsier than most games, which would prefer not to address real international tensions.

A developer with less balls would have…
Set the opening in Hackysakistan.

6. Field torture of Rojas’s right-hand man

The “War on Terror” (which we’re pretty sure the AP suggests always be in quotes), and subsequent treatment of prisoners in US custody, has ignited the torture debate like an oil well. The unsupervised actions of US personnel overseas has been sometimes appalling - a stiff reminder of what psychologist Stanley Milgram taught us about human behavior, that it can be corrupted with more ease than you’d like to believe.

Above: A couple of guys just doing what has to be done… with a car battery 

This scene from Modern Warfare 2 depicts two soldiers preparing to torture a captured combatant. Whether or not torture is ethical, the message here is that, in the act of catching the bad guys and preventing wars, soldiers do whatever is necessary. The game, as it usually does, doesn’t judge this activity positively or negatively, but even pointing it out and acknowledging the issue is gutsier than most games.

A developer with less balls would have…
Utilized a lot of firm slapping, stern looks, and sunglasses-putting-on to extract information.

5. Dead astronaut

We didn’t even realize we were in control when this scene occurred, we just assumed it was a cut scene. Of course it wasn’t, this is Infinity Ward. While they may have gone overboard with killing playable characters (it was pretty effective in CoD 4, so let’s do it all the time!), this instance was particularly memorable.

Above: Houston just told us that we may have a problem, didn’t it? Sigh…

Firstly, we discover the nature of the missile - an EMP. And secondly… we die. And presumably so does everyone on the ISS. Burn.

Above: The appropriate response would actually have been “shitballs!”

Above: We only wish Infinity Ward would have let us drift through space indefinitely, it was kind of fun

A developer with less balls would have…
Probably not killed everyone on the ISS.


  • crumbdunky - December 7, 2009 8:23 a.m.

    You REALLY think No Russian is defendable? Really? Sometimes you guys just look silly when you suck up like this to devs who should know better AND know how to use a far subtler touch. Fact is the whole shebang ONLY exists to court controversy in the hope of a little "edgy" media and even higher sales. The fact it's part you can skip shows how little it gives to the game-it's totally superfluous which also makes it completely gratuitous too. Even as the revenge vehicle it's fatally flawed as YOU do the killing with them without any real sense of anything but a worry that this appeals to the lowest common denomentor among us gamers. I'd have much preferred a playable cutty where you see the effect that this sort of undercover work has on an operative with the pertinent story parts told through the owrds of the obviously scarred and anguished fornmer undercover guy. YYou coould end it with your character leaving the room only to hear a snap, walk back in and find the guy swinging fornlornly on his broken neck from the ceiling as he's beyond revenge or forgiveness. Isn't that better than letting the millions of dud neads who DO buy COD ganmes alongside the rest of us the chance to laugh at killing innocents? So, defend it if you like but the whole episode sticks to high heaven and I'd be more careful about what you call "ballsy" choices when, in actual fact, it's just a load of balls.
  • SwirlyGreenLogo - November 22, 2009 2:58 a.m.

    As far as I'm concerned, if the "Fight Against Grenade Spam" thing is number 1, then that means you're saying calling someone a fag is worse than shooting up an airport. You even said that having no dedicated servers is worse than the "No Russian" mission, despite the fact that there are far fewer PC gamers than Russian citizens
  • smallberry - November 21, 2009 8 p.m.

    WTF happened to my comment? It was supposed to be: Citizens Unite to Negate Technology For Life And People's Safety
  • smallberry - November 21, 2009 7:58 p.m.

    I wonder if anyone remembers this one from Liberty City Stories: Citizens Unite to Negate Technology For Holy crap!: recapcha- server loving Life And People's Safety
  • country1st - November 20, 2009 3:49 a.m.

    Good article. i don't care about the grenade spam vid whatever. deal with it, i understand that people may have been offended, but seriously get over it. we are who we are. also the torture scene in my opinion isn't offensive at all. how does the quote go, THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS. if i means saving thousands of lives to find, in this case to find Mackarov So F***** Be it. my opinion may change later, but i think I'd do it to get the information needed. overall i wasn't offended by anything, even the airport scene. it's no different than terrorists blowing them selves up anywhere.
  • pastycaucasian - November 20, 2009 1:46 a.m.

    That game has the best story ever in a first person shooter epic
  • Shagnasty - November 19, 2009 8:18 p.m.

    Wow seriously on that last one? I can't believe GR would be so generic as to get touchy about offending people that aren't going to get offended by that. This is such an American trend. Do you really think any gays got horribly offended by the acronym at the end? No. The people who are up in arms are the terrified straight white Americans that want to be all lovey-dovey and doesn't want anyone to feel awkward and forces everyone to feel awkward by dragging this out into the daylight and giving the genuinely funny clip attention for the wrong reasons. Instead of saying, "Hey everyone, look at this random, funny movie", you guys scream, "HEY EVERYONE, IW INSINUATED THE WORD FAGS!" They just said fags. They didn't say God hates fags, burn all fags, fags are the only right people, destroy all but fags, they simply used the acronym F.A.G.S. GR: Stop giving finger-pointing collections of idiots like the ACLU power.
  • ReaperOfDarkness - November 19, 2009 6:48 a.m.

    Wow, I agree with the author until the last part. It seems to me like hypocrisy. Blasting civilians is balls to the wall awesome but dear lord use an offensive acronym and we need PC stormtroopers on the double to stop such nonsense. His reaction was blown way out of proportion especially considering the other controversies. Since when is mowing down civilians simply fun and a suggestive acronym unacceptable?
  • RedeyeAP - November 19, 2009 3:34 a.m.

    Uhm, I haven't played MW2 but when was the ISS supposedly destroyed? That looks like it's configuration from several years back. The current ISS is nearing assembly complete and has many more modules and truss segments. Just saying.
  • xXHaloKillerXx - November 18, 2009 12:54 p.m.

    LOL shitballs!!!
  • Cwf2008 - November 18, 2009 8:06 a.m.

    Assburgers...fitting name for a dumbass. Hope you realize infinity ward made the game and activision published it
  • AssBurgersFTW - November 17, 2009 11:51 p.m.

    I think its important to note that the 2 ballsiest things that Activision did, is Activision epically failing with a disregard for all sense of reason or logic. Lets hope this does not continue and their ego's settle down. To the point where they believe that all wrongs will be justified by a game with no long term consequences.
  • TheHolyHandGrenade - November 17, 2009 9:28 p.m.

    Personaly i love the game. I like how it gives you war strait up. it being short is better than it being "fluffy". "no russian" set the game up perfectly
  • ChainsawHero - November 17, 2009 8:18 p.m.

    "No Russian" was crazy, I thought it showed how intense the rest of the game was gonna be. Why better and more involved than the execution scene from the first game.
  • ChubsMcBoarder - November 17, 2009 8:04 p.m.

    also the no russian level my favorite part!
  • ChubsMcBoarder - November 17, 2009 8:02 p.m.

    FAGS. FAGS FAGS FAGS FAGS FAGS FAGS FAGS FAGS FAGS FAGS FAGS. it's a word, get over it. and don't even try to act like you don't use it.
  • adadadad - November 17, 2009 7:09 p.m.

    first! yesss! ;\ xbox versoon of mw2 has extra multiplayer levels than ps-fail. ;\ (may just speek troth, plz, no flamewar). ;\ may level 23 already! greet justice to noobs x
  • noobeater - November 17, 2009 7:02 p.m.

    hahhaha 3 achievements left 1.8 kill death and done all veteren 35 kill streak ended only because all the team left and avengin roach and ghost being betrayed whilst dodging bullets through an airfielf by 2 sides makes this such an epic game, i myself did find the no russian level a tad extreme and wernt not really needed but still was fun as hell
  • oryandymackie - November 17, 2009 4:55 p.m.

    And Billiam 101 has been reported, as with all firsters
  • oryandymackie - November 17, 2009 4:54 p.m.

    I'm sick of people at our school boasting about MW2. I overheard one idiot claiming he'd completed it in three hours on the hardest difficulty setting. Isn't it a seven hour campaign?

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